Comparison Between John Donne's "The Flea" And "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"

1309 words - 5 pages

The poem 'The Flea' by John Donne is an example of a monologue. However, instead of being a dramatic monologue, it is known as a dramatic lyric. Through the ideas of the speaker being a man, who is addressing the poem to a woman, and the use of the flea, which causes the speaker's words to change as the poem progresses, it can be seen that 'The Flea' is a dramatic lyric poem, where the speaker is a man who is attempting to convince a woman to have sex with him. The flea plays an important role in the poem. It is not only used to determine that there are two people interacting, as indicated by the "two bloods," but is also used to show how the speaker wants to have sex with the woman. Donne proves this concept by having the flea land on the woman's arm and having the man compare his actions to the little creature's actions. The man implies that the flea sucking the blood out of the woman is worse than him having sex with her. He says that the flea sucking the blood, "cannot be said/ A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead," yet the flea "does more than we would do." The speaker is saying that the flea has the power to mix two people's blood, and this bond is similar, if not worse, to having sex. Since no sin or shame is derived from the flea's actions, it means that sex is not bad then either .The man wants the flea to live, as he says at the beginning of the third stanza, "Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare." He wants the flea to remain on the woman's arm because it is a representation of the man and the woman coming together, as mentioned by "this flea is you and I." The speaker states that the flea is "where we almost, yea, more than married are." Sex is implied by "more than married", but since they haven't done it yet, the speaker uses the word "almost." At the end of the third stanza, the woman wants to kill the flea and the speaker is trying to stop her, shown by when he says "though use make you apt to kill me." This line indicates that if she follows societies custom of proper women having no sex before marriage, then she can destroy his sexual desires, which is symbolized by the flea's death. The man doesn't want the woman to have three sins by killing the flea with the two "bloods" inside, and argues that she should rather commit just one sin by having sex with him. However, it is evident that the woman does kill the flea by the man saying, " Cruel and sudden, hast thou since/Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?" This forces the man to change his argument so that she will still have sex with him, because now the bond of the flea is broken. He states the flea was guilty in nothing, but the little "drop," which it sucked from her. The speaker is comparing himself to the flea again, as being a man who will do nothing but have sex with her, as if it is some minute thing with no big impact. He goes on further to say that, "Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,/ Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee." Similar...

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